Despite skyrocketing teen use of e-cigarettes, a proposal to make California the nation’s first state to ban flavored tobacco is struggling in the Legislature — and health advocates blame the political potency of the tobacco industry.
With negotiations underway behind-the-scenes, vaping interests hope to at least weaken the legislation, if not turn it in the industry’s favor.
On the Assembly side, all tobacco-related bills were effectively snuffed out last month when a key committee opted not to hear them. The committee’s chairman, Merced Democrat Adam Gray, declined to be interviewed. In an email, he wrote that “the authors of the various proposals and the committee are working together to develop a comprehensive proposal that addresses the issue from all sides. We will develop a thoughtful package of reforms and move legislation forward this year.”
In the state Senate, a flavored-tobacco ban has advanced and is heading for a Senate floor vote, but only after it was amended to exempt hookah products and products patented before 2000, except menthol cigarettes. Even if it passes the Senate, its future in the Assembly is doubtful.
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